Governmental Affairs News

Monday, June 22, 2015

House and Senate divide over summer break

All legislators took a one-week break this week, but the Senate returns on June 30 for a few weeks as it considers legislation to improve roads. Senators have promised to stay in town to come up with a roads plan before breaking for summer. The House broke for the summer last week and plans to return for a week in mid-July and mid-August to review a Senate roads plan if one materializes. (See roads item below.)


Local wage/benefit pre-emption heads to governor
Legislators put the final stamp of approval last week on a bill designed to protect private businesses from a patchwork of local labor laws. The bill, HB 4052, prohibits local units of government from adopting, enforcing or administering a local ordinance, policy or resolution that:
  • Regulates the information an employer can request, require or exclude on an application for employment
  • Requires a higher minimum wage than the state minimum wage
  • Requires an employer to pay a wage or fringe benefit prevailing in the locality
  • Regulates work stoppage or strike activity
  • Regulates hours and scheduling (a locality can still set limits on the hours a business may operate)
  • Requires a fringe benefit that would create an additional expense for the employer
  • Regulates or creates administrative or judicial remedies for wage, hour or benefit disputes.


The legislation underwent several edits and went back and forth between the two chambers twice before it was enrolled on Wednesday and sent to the governor’s desk for his signature. Changes made to the bill were designed to protect local and state governments’ ability to set parameters on projects, contracts and tax credits. Another change grandfathered local prevailing wage laws adopted before January 1, 2015. The final changes were requested by the administration and should almost guarantee the governor will sign the bill into law.

Approval of the legislation was a major victory for all retailers and will protect them from arbitrary local rules that increase the cost of doing business. MRA was strongly supportive of the legislation and testified in support of the bill in the Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee on June 11. Retailers are free to set their own wage and benefit policies with employees. The bill continues efforts to improve Michigan’s business climate by having only one set of wage and benefit rules to follow in Michigan.


Pharmacy tech licensure pushed back to Oct. 1

The Michigan Senate and House approved changes last Thursday to HB 4205, a vehicle bill used to push back the effective date for pharmacy technician licensing to October 1, 2015, from June 30, 2015. MRA worked closely with the department and legislators to get the last-minute change approved by lawmakers before the summer break and June 30 deadline.

The pushback was proposed after a perfect storm of events prevented any possibility that the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Bureau of Professional Licensing would be able to meet the deadline. Originally, the department estimated approximately 13,000 technicians would apply for licensure. Instead, it received 20,000-30,000 applications. Combined with a perfect storm of internal problems, the only solution was to move back the date.

There are several other technical changes MRA will work on getting approved before October 1. Those changes include clarifying the locations a limited license technician can work, GED/high school diploma concerns, and extending the timeframe for a temporary technician to obtain 600 hours of training. Both the House and Senate have agreed to work toward adopting those additional changes before October 1.

We do expect the governor to sign the bill before June 30, and we will send an alert once the bill is signed into law. The text of the bill can be viewed here (the tech change is on page 10, line 7).


House passes new roads-funding plan
The House passed on June 10 its new roads plan, crafted after the resounding defeat of Proposal 1 on May 5. The 12-bill package includes some pieces of the original plan that would have been tied to Proposal 1’s success: competitive bidding and road warranties. It would also look to reprioritize existing funds and increase registration fees for electric vehicles to pay for the much-needed infrastructure repairs.

The House Fiscal Agency calculates the bill could bring in closer to $1.2 billion instead of the $1.05 billion originally suggested. While some pieces of the plan received bipartisan support, most of the plan was passed by a majority of House Republicans. While House passage of a plan is considered a good first step, the Senate did not take immediate action on the House plan. The bills were referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.

Other important items to note: 

GROCERY/CONVENIENCE
  • Cigarette sales to minors: SB 340 would increase the penalties for selling tobacco products to a minor from $50 to $100 for a first violation and $500 for a second or subsequent violation. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on June 16.

  • Conditional liquor license: HB 4654 would expand the eligible applicants for a conditional liquor license to include those seeking a public on-premise license under MCL 436.1521a or a resort economic license under MCL 436.1531(2), (3), or (4). The bill was introduced on May 27 and referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee, which the bill sponsor chairs.

REGULATIONS
  • Mass picketing: HB 4643 was introduced on May 26 and referred to the House Commerce and Trade Committee. The bill would set remedies for businesses subject to mass picketing and penalties for individuals involved.

  • Minimum-wage increase: Legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018 was introduced on June 10 as SB 391. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, which is a good sign it is unlikely to move.

  • Tipped wage: Legislation to dramatically increase the tipped minimum wage to 80 percent of the state’s minimum wage was introduced as SB 373 and HB 4720. The legislation is unlikely to receive a hearing.

  • Use of credit in hiring: HB 4652 would prohibit the use of an individual’s credit history in the hiring process. The bill was introduced on May 26 and referred to the House Commerce and Trade Committee.

  • Wage deductions: Legislation that would modify the required written notice period an employer must give an employee for wage deductions related to a garnishment was introduced as HB 4723 on June 16. The period would change from within at least one pay period to one pay period or 10 business days, whichever is greater, before the deduction is made. The bill has bipartisan support and was referred to the House Commerce and Trade Committee.

PHARMACY
  • Medication synchronization: Legislation to remove some of the barriers to expand synchronization of medication was approved by the Senate Insurance Committee on June 17. Synchronization can be costly, which is why passage of the S-2 version of SB 150 is needed to ensure that insurers provide a prorated daily rate for medications during the synchronization period. MRA submitted written testimony in support of the legislation.

  • Pseudoephedrine: SB 409-410 would prohibit an attempt to solicit another person to purchase ephedrine or pseudoephedrine for purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine. The bills were introduced on June 18 and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TAXES

  • Ban online sale of breast milk: HB 4691 would ban the sale of human breast milk over the Internet. The bill was introduced on June 9 and referred to the House Health Policy Committee.

  • Ban sale of ivory: SB 371 and HB 4509 would prohibit the sale or intent to sell ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn or rhinoceros horn product. The bill sets penalties for violations and was referred to the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees.

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